The Investigation Process Research Resource Site
A Pro Bono site with hundreds of resources for Investigation Investigators
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. . . .. . . . . . . . last updated 8/8/09


to advance the
State-of-the-Art of
investigations, through
investigation process

Research Resources:

Launched Aug 26 1996.


Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

This feature will be expanded as the questions arise. Additional questions and answers that surface in direct communications with me will be added as they arise. Other Q&As that in my opinion would be useful for investigation process researchers to have available may also be added.


Q What's the difference between accident investigation process research and accident analysis research?
A Based on my reading of reports of both, accident investigation research focuses on the concepts, principles, and procedures constituting the investigation process, and accident analysis research focuses on analyzing accidents using data in investigation reports.

Q Why does the site eschew "accident causation" modeling and material about such modeling efforts?
A Primarily because the term "causation" has theoretical implications about the perceived nature of the accident phenomenon that in my experience biases and distorts constructive inquiry into the investigation of such phenomena; cause as used in such models does not fit the observable process nature of the phenomenon during rigorously disciplined investigations.

Q What mishap investigation methodologies are there today?
A There are many that have been identified since the mid 1970s, when the question was first posed. I will add them as time permits in the Tools section

Q What is a root cause?
A There are many views, some of which are discussed on the AIPRE forum. Here's a partial list that a Google search turns up:

Definitions of root cause on the Web:

1. The most fundamental reason for the failure or inefficiency of a process. (

2. The real cause or origin of a problem (

3 The ultimate source of an effect. (

4 The underlying reason for the occurrence of a problem. (

5 In plain English a root cause is a cause that is at a root of an effect. An effect can have more than one root. Thus a given effect can have, and usually does have, more than one root cause. In Continuous Process Improvement (CPI), a root cause is the most basic reason for a defect or problem in a product or process. Elimination of the root cause leads to the elimination of the defect or problem.

6. The most fundamental reason for the failure or inefficiency of a process. (

7. The real cause or origin of a problem

For more discussions, see

These differences reflect fundamental problems with root cause analyses.